Sears Mulls Media Finalists

NEW YORK Sears Holdings has chosen finalists in the review of its media chores, according to sources.

In the running are: incumbents MindShare and MEC Interaction, both units of WPP Group; Aegis Group’s Carat; Havas’ MPG; and independent Horizon Media, per sources.

Publicis Groupe’s Zenith Media and Omnicom Group’s PHD are out of contention.

Agency and client executives either declined comment or could not be reached.

Two weeks ago, Sears confirmed placing media planning and buying duties on its nearly $740 million advertising account in play. The competition covers both the Sears and Kmart retail chains.

MindShare handles traditional media and MEC Interaction works on the interactive business.

The Hoffman Estates, Ill., company consolidated traditional media chores at MindShare last June. The shop had handled Sears’ media for several years, but added $200 million from Kmart in that consolidation. WPP’s MediaCom previously handled Kmart’s media duties.

Kmart this week shifted its creative work from WPP’s Grey in New York to IPG’s DraftFCB in Chicago without a review. WPP’s Young & Rubicam in Chicago handles creative on Sears; that assignment is not affected by the media review.

Sears Holdings was formed in March 2005 after Kmart Holding Corp. acquired Sears, Roebuck and Co. for an estimated $12.3 billion.

The company spent nearly $740 million on advertising last year, according to Nielsen Monitor-Plus, down nearly 3 percent from the previous year.

Santa Monica, Calif.-based consultancy Select Resources International is managing the media review process.